Category Archives: Empowerment

Best advice ever . . .

God bless Facebook for putting me in touch with old friends. One of the best reconnections I’ve made is with a former (gulp) student who’s now a counselor/coach. She’s got a terrific blog and has some great things to say. The following is some of the best advice I’ve read for the recovering once-married:

Is it possible to fall out of love? Millions of happily divorced couples would easily argue “yes.” But for lots of others, it seems a Herculean task. They can’t possibly stop loving someone, and will be connected to them, heart and soul, forever. This happens to the best. Even if the paramour in question is unfaithful, emotionally unavailable, mean, negative, controlling, violent, flaky, rude to your friends and family, or simply just isn’t that into you and has moved on.

But Billy Corgin is right—we are, ultimately, all rats in a cage. Or dogs. A bell rings, we salivate in anticipation. We press a lever, food comes out. If the food stops coming out or there is no yummy meat powder on the horizon, we eventually lose interest. Extinction. If we leave love alone, it will fade and change shape, and we will move on. But every time you engage with The Ex—send a letter, slash a tire, seek out gossip, make or receive phone calls, pour through old photos, you feed that connection instead of extinguishing it. So if you do want to fall out of love, you do want to lift that painful weight, you do want to extinguish that feeling, here are a few suggestions that might help:

Do not seek out or offer any information that is not absolutely necessary. When you’re letting go of love, you’ve got enough on your mind to process without incorporating any new information. So if The Ex is doing this or that, with this person or that person, does it really benefit you to know? Or does it just make you feel worse? So step away from the phone, twitter, myspace, text, or any other new millennium tools we have to torture ourselves by keeping personal lines of communication open, forever if we want. Extinction is about fading that emotional connection to dust, so memorize a line like “we’re not going to discuss that” if you do have to communicate with The Ex, adopt a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy with friends and family, and focus conversations on the many other fabulous aspects of your life. And there are many!

Fill up the space with something—anything. Anything, I mean, that is healthy and productive. So no spontaneous sex, shopping or eating binges, draining the liquor cabinet, or all of the above. Whenever you decide to quit something, there is immediately a lot of time to fill. Time formerly spent drafting letters to The Ex, fighting with The Ex, responding to angry e-mails with The Ex—what do you want to do with that time now? Maybe reconnect with old friends. Go to a community event you’ve heard about. Learn something new. Exercise. Exercise. Did I say that twice? Now that you’re not fixating on someone else, you can fixate on yourself—and do something that will make you feel better, stronger, braver, and more confident.

Vent away—far away—from The Ex. Letting go of a relationship can be an agonizing, excruciating process. Do you want to yell? Do you want to sob? Then do it with gusto—so long as you are not doing it in the presence of The Ex. Cry on a friend’s shoulder. Run away by yourself for the weekend. Fill up a fireplace with angry letters and roast some marshmallows. If you have made the decision to fall out of love, that becomes a very individual process which no longer involves The Ex. This might be a good time to consider some therapy—which does the mind, body, and soul good! When you turn the attention onto yourself and embark on a journey of self-discovery, a neutral collaborator can be there to support you, empower you, and teach you a few handy tricks for the road ahead. No, your head will not be shrunk—but it just might be expanded.

Redefine the words you use. Words like soulmate and even the word love itself. I enjoy the idea of soulmates and you can imagine any number of ways to frame this concept. Me, I’m an X-Phile and got all the insight I needed on soulmates from the X-Files episode “The Field Where I Died.” Basically, souls mate—in clumps. Friends, lovers, family, coworkers, enemies, those eternal spirits kind of float through time with each other, appearing in different bodies as they travel on. Your child in this life was your teacher in a past one, for example. Perhaps it’s ridiculous, but for me it’s better than believing there is only one person out there who is a spiritual match. Why not experience having a few great loves, if necessary, by expanding your definitions to accommodate where life is taking you?

There is nothing easy about letting go of love—it’s probably the most painful thing anyone has to do in this life. There is grieving, there is the desire for closure, there is confusion, fear, and great existential anxiety. But there is also beauty, energy, and illumination waiting on the other side. So extinguish some behaviors, embrace your capacity to feel love, and let the rest of your life begin. Onward!

Nancy Goodman, LPC is a counselor/coach living in Pocatello, Idaho, where she writes a weekly wellness/spirituality/career column called “Fumbling Toward Serenity” for the Idaho State Journal. You can read her columns at http://vocatusidaho.blogspot.com. Nancy is available to meet in-person or via telephone; the first 50-minute appointment is always free, and all services are confidential. You can contact Nancy at goodnanc@yahoo.com or 208-478-1414.

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Filed under Creating a new life, Empowerment, Moving on

I’ve discovered the key to doing home repairs

I’ve been a crafter my whole life. I love to buy new craft toys, play at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby or Joann Fabric… The Internet changed my crafting life by exposing me to new ways of seeing and doing things.

This is it – the key to doing home repair. I just have to look at it the same way I look at crafting. Here’s what I found:

1. doing home repairs give me an excuse to buy new tools and play with new materials.

2. If you think of Home Depot as just another craft store, it’s way less threatening. It even has a cutting station, just like Joann.

3. Google anything, anything at all – you’ll find somebody on the Internet showing you how to do it.

4. Crafters have that “it’s more fun to do it myself” mentality. Just like home handypeople!

5. Doing my own home repairs takes advantage of my artistic ability, too. My heart just sang when I read that good grouting is more about artisitic ability than home repair skill. YES!

See ya later – I’m off to Home Depot (again!).

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Filed under Creating a new life, Empowerment, Finances, Fixing stuff, Haven for one

I feel like Bob Vila!

The Home Depot, Inc.
Image via Wikipedia

One of my spring break tasks was to deal with the moldy grout in the shower. Yuck.

I tried Oxy Clean. It got the tiles cleaner-than-clean, but didn’t tackle the grout at all. Boo.

So back to Home Depot I went and I purchased a Clorox Bleach Pen. I also purchased some stuff that I need to create the mosaic I want to make for the table I plan to paint for the living room (this becomes important later).

So, last evening around 8:00 pm I started to bleach the grout (what? you don’t do that at 8:00 pm? Well, there was nothing good on TV). It worked great.

It also ran down the wall – of course – and attacked the nasty caulk around the tiles that butt up against the tub.

Hm. Attack is a good word.

It came off, as did the tiles. Whoops.

I called Mr. Ex to find out what to do, and emailed his BlackBerry. No answer. I go look at the tiles again. Yup; still coming off. Six of those little suckers.

So – I decide that I need to deal with this myself. I Google “replacing bathroom caulk” or something like that, and within 30 minutes I’m an expert at what I need to do. I removed the loose tiles (not hard – the bleach had pretty much done that for me) and took them to the newly-cleaned out laundry toom to soak them in mineral spirits to remove the old cement, grout and caulk. I scraped off the old stuff from the tiles on the wall (not having a screwdriver I used a wooden paint stirrer from Home Depot – it worked) and cleaned and dried the area. The soaking tiles were clean and the remaining cement scraped off easily.

Now – I needed ceramic tile cement. Luckily, earlier that day I had already gone to Home Depot to get some for my mosaic project. How good was that? I also needed something to spread the cement on the tile. Did you ever notice that there are special tools and gadgets for everything in home repair? Well, I went through my craft supplies in the laundry room (again, newly cleaned, so it was easy) and found the tools that I had used when I was in my paste paper phase. Well, they’re just perfect for cementing tiles! Whoohoo.

So, back to the bathroom and the tiles. I put some music on, and did me some cementing. No big deal.

Crept back in an hour later – tiles still up.

Wow. I rock. The biggest problem is the the six tiles are waaaaaaay cleaner than the others, and when I’m done grouting and caulking that’ll be cleaner too. Oh well – this project will wait until this summer when Allie’s in Israel and I’m alone in the house. That way a few days or so with no upstairs bath won’t be a disaster.

So today it’ll be back to Home Depot for grout and caulk. I’m so cool.

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Filed under Empowerment, Singleness, Things I never did before

Choices

I stopped on my way home the other night to pick dinner up for myself. It was Friday night, and I was going to be home alone. I’m okay with it – I had a busy weekend coming up and I needed the downtime. What I didn’t need was to cook, so I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few groceries. Now, everybody knows that the grocery store has become a great place to pick up ready-to-go foods as well, so I figured I could pick dinner up for that night; something that didn’t need to be prepared.

Flickr Loves Sushi. Mmm.
Image by drp via Flickr

Sushi? Roasted chicken? Frozen something? Salad bar? Deli? Pizza?

That’s a lot of choices.

First I put sushi in the cart. Mr. Sushi special for  $9.99. Really. Seemed like an easy solution.

Then I walked around for a while.

Hmmm. Did I want something hot? How about the roasted chicken? Or a pizza?

Or did I want to just get some deli stuff and then have it for the rest of the week?

I put the sushi back and grabbed a chicken. Then I put the chicken back and took a pizza. Then I put the pizza back and bought two rolls and a package of liverwurst. Not even kidding.

Here’s the problem. I don’t know how to deal with choices, when it’s choosing for me only. I spent 30 years making meals for 2, 3 or 4 or more – one of whom was a vegetarian, and two of whom were children at various stages, which automatically limited choices. I’m not a picky eater (perhaps that’s my problem); I like almost everything and I’m not afraid to try things that I’ve never eaten. I eat spicy; I eat veggies; I eat meat; I eat flour; I eat peanuts.

In other words, I’m screwed. Too many choices and I don’t know where to start.

In therapy yesterday, the therapist said to me that I have the rest of my life in front of me, and now I can do what I want to do.

And that would be….. ?

It’s too overwhelming.

For 30 years my choices have been limited by my situation, my responsiblities and my role in life – wife, mother, partner, provider. Now what?

I’ve done the 100 things in 1000 days list – you can see it by clicking on the link. I guess that’s a good place to start, but even that seems like a daunting list of choices.

I need to start smaller I think. Tomorrow – my “to do” for March…

And maybe I’ll grow beyond the liverwurst (which, incidentally, was delicious).

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Filed under Creating a new life, Empowerment, Singleness, Transition

Empowerment

Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social or economic strength of individuals and communities. It often involves the empowered developing confidence in their own capacities. ~ Wikipedia

Time to set some empowerment goals…

I was married a long time. To a man who rarely earned as much as I did, worked as much as I did, or had the same level of professional success as I did. I realize now that I often took a back seat to him in other areas in order to make him feel stronger (well, I guess he IS stronger), better about himself… more manly. While there were several areas where he was clearly superior (like fixing things, building things, packing, taking care of the cars), there were other areas over which I gave him control that I could just have easily managed myself, like finances.

All of this leads me to think about developing confidence in capacities in the context of divorce.

Where have I neglected my capacities? Where can I improve my confidence?

There are some areas that I clearly have already started to take charge and surprised myself.

  • I am more organized at home now. Because my STBXH worked from home a lot of the time we bacame a little lax about schedules. For instance, if we ran out of bananas on Wednesday he could run out during the day on Thursday to pick some up. I HATE shopping during the week (I pretty much hate it any time), so I’m pretty careful about making sure I get all my errands done on the weekend, and that I buy enough to get me through the week. Same thing with the garbage (see post). When he was in charge of garbage, it was typically a last-minute thing on Wednesday morning (again, this was possible due to the lack of a schedule). Because I have to be on my way at 7:30 am, I always get this done on Tuesday night. And, I figured out that if I only have one bag of garbage I really don’t need to drag the can to the curb (and then back again at night); I can just put the garbage bag out.
  • I’m good with finances. I like to budget; I like to keep track of the money and where it goes. I think some of this is because I’m comfortable with technology and so much of finance management can be done online. I have to tell you, I’m not sure that I would do business with a company where I couldn’t pay the bills online. Unfortunately some of my mother’s bills don’t work that way, but you can’t have it all. I also made some smart changes like switching the phone and cell bills to be paid through a credit card so that I accrue points.
  • I hate clutter. I lived with the clutter monster for so long that I just stopped seeing it, I think. The upside of my husband moving out is that he took all his crap with him, and I immediately got a taste of what it felt like to be able to walk ALL the way around the bed and not step on his piles of paper; eat at the kitchen table without moving a month of mail; or have to pick my way through the office in order to get something off the printer without killing myself.
  • I don’t need to acquire stuff to feel good. I’ve been really frugal this month. I’m okay with not buying stuff. More than just tolerating it, I think I’m enjoying the challenge of making do, using things up and repurposing things I already have. I don’t know if we were buying to make up for our crappy marriage or just because that’s what we were used to doing, but I’m enjoying not buying.
  • I can do things that he used to do. I may not do them as well or as quickly, but I can. I’ve done small stuff like changed all the clocks for daylight savings time (not a big deal, but I did have to climb on and off chairs, take clocks down from the wall and put them back up), emptied mouse traps (yuck – and maybe not so small), and bought enormous bags of dog food. I’ve also done bigger things like take hanging wineglass racks down. And I plan to do more – my friend Susie even gave me a cordless drill and screwdriver for Hanukkah this year.

There are also some areas where I’d like to see growth in the capacities department:

  • Gardening and yard work. I have always left that to him or the lawn service we had last summer. I don’t want to pay for lawn service, so I’m going to do it myself. I don’t want to mow my huge yard, though, so I’m going to plant some ground cover to cut down on the mowing part. I’m also thinking about a small vegetable garden. I don’t have a water source in the back of the house, though, so I think I’m going to put in a rain barrel or two (and because I’m too frugal to spend so much on water when I can collect it for free).
  • Small home repairs. Home Depot offers free workshops and my local high school offers classes for a reasonable cost. I’m basically creative and I do think it will be fun to learn how to do things around the house.
    Car Talk
    Image via Wikipedia
  • Basic car maintenance. No, I am not going to fix my brakes on my driveway. I’m not even changing my own oil. But I do want to become more knowledgeable about car stuff – that was totally his department. I’ve started listening to the Car Talk guys on my local NPR station. They sound like they know what they’re talking about, and they’re pretty funny, too.
  • Singles socializing. I’ve already taken some big steps. I’ve done a bunch of Meetup.com events, and I’ve developed a core group of friends who are also single with whom I can go to the movies on a Saturday afternoon. I still want to get out more, meet more new people (meaning men, too, when I’m ready), and take a few classes (improv, anyone?).

All of this is about renewed self-confidence, y’know? Every time you stretch and get out of your comfort zone a little, it feels good.

What capacities do you want to grow?

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Empowerment movies

Hope Floats
Image via Wikipedia

Tonight I’m watching “Hope Floats.” Sandra Bullock finds out that her husband is cheating on her on national TV and has to start her life over. And she ends up with Harry Connick Jr….. mmmmmmmm.

What’s your favorite empowerment after divorce movie?

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